The combination of fitness and virtual reality made the ICAROS seem like a good product to check out at CES 2020 so I headed over to the Sands in Las Vegas.
ICAROS GmbH was established in Munich, Germany in 2015 to combine virtual reality with an ergonomic design to provide optimal health and fitness benefits. The device looks a bit like a fancy inversion table that would provide back relief. Ironically, the first thing I noticed once I positioned myself in the machine was the fact that there was absolutely no pressure on my back. In other words, I didn’t have any back pain, which was fantastic.
Once you’re ready to begin, after you position yourself in the ICAROS while wearing a compatible VR headset of your choice, you can load one of several games designed to provide varying levels of fitness and entertainment. The experience being demoed at CES is Aim, a flight game with alpine scenery and hoops that you try to fly through to achieve higher scores.
When you’re using the device, you have to constantly make slight adjustments to your core in order to keep the machine level and achieve your goals in the game. It’s immediately engaging and comfortable, but you can definitely feel the workout in your legs and shoulders. Although your back and stomach muscles are getting a good workout, since the pressure has been removed from those areas, the pressure of your body is shifted more to your shoulders and outer limbs.
I’ve tried a few VR experiences where you’re essentially lying on a device that gives you the sensation of flying motion. Some of these have made me feel a bit nauseous so I was pleased that the ICAROS games didn’t make me feel that way at all, even when I made quick turns or went up or down very fast.
I was delighted to discover that there is also a mode that allows players to compete with other pilots. The ICAROS online multiplayer platform allows users to create a personal profile, track their progress, and compare their scores with others in a global competitive racing simulation.
The global ICAROS series (G.I.S) launced in 2018 with tournaments available both online and in physical reality. In October of that year, world championships were conducted in Germany. Learn more about the ICAROS tournament series here.
There are device options that include setups for hospitals, gyms, therapy centers, etc. as well as the home. I tried the ICAROS Home and the ICAROS Pro. Both were comfortable, easy to use after a quick explanation, and once I put on the headset, I definitely felt immersed.
Obviously there will be some people who can’t use this particular fitness system. It would be a challenge for someone with extreme obesity, for example, and while they need to work on core strengthening, initially it might be best to do that through a game such as Beat Saber. This also would allow them to lose weight, develop better balance and strengthen their core muscles.
In addition, while some VR games and fitness experiences will work for any age, this particular device obviously isn’t for children and it probably would be a challenge – and possibly unsafe – for many elderly. I can’t imagine any of my relatives over 65 using this device, but that’s not really the target audience anyway.
With that said, if someone can step onto the device and balance their body weight, then they’ll be ready to get a fantastic core workout. This should be most people who would like to use it for therapy, health, and wellness.
The system is compatible with all the major headsets, including the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. In addition to private use in homes, it would work well in rehabilitation or physical therapy facilities, hotels, and location-base entertainment venues.
Visit the ICAROS website for more information.